10
Jan
2019

WSJ: 2019’s iPhone XS Max will rock 3 rear cameras, XR’s successor to gain 2 rear cameras

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that it has learned from people familiar with Apple’s roadmap that the company plans on releasing three new iPhone models in 2019, with a refreshed iPhone XS Max picking up a triple-lens setup out the back and a second-generation iPhone XR gaining two rear cameras instead of one.

The report added that Apple should make a jump to an all-OLED lineup for 2020 models:

The plan to stick with LCD this year comes as Apple grapples with sluggish sales of iPhone XR, which has cut into its most recent revenue projection. That is partly because the planned LCD handset has been in the product pipeline for months and the plan can’t be altered easily.

For 2020, Apple is considering dropping the LCD model, some of the people said, which would mark a complete shift to the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display for iPhones. The OLED displays on current XS models are considered to provide better contrast than the less expensive LCD displays on the XR and earlier iPhones such as the 7 and 8 models.

Additionally, all iPhones that Apple will release this year could ship without existing 3D Touch hardware in order to reduce components costs, the story alleges.

Apple is also considering trimming functions from its 2019 lineup to cut costs, people familiar with the matter said. That includes the force-touch module, which makes the display sensitive to fingertip pressure, the people said, though the function could live on in other components, one of the people said.

Keep in mind that the report does not imply the 3D Touch is going away completely because Apple could mimic the feature in software (like iPhone XR’s Haptic Touch) or use a differently designed module to achieve the same functionality.

The biggest improvement will be in the camera department, per the report:

  • 2019 iPhone XS: OLED-based display, two rear cameras
  • 2019 iPhone XS Max: OLED-based display, three rear cameras
  • 2019 iPhone XR: LCD-based display, two rear cameras

“In a sign of Apple’s awareness of the competitiveness of Chinese rivals, the company has been studying some Chinese smartphone brands, especially camera features,” reads the report.

The third lens could be used for improved low-light photography and, crucially, for better optical zoom beyond the 2x telephoto lens, which by the way is likely going to be present on 2019 models because it’s used for shooting portraits. The third lens could be a part of Apple’s rumored time-of-flight solution to improve depth sensing and augmented reality (notably, revered analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the technology will actually make it into 2020 iPhones).

Alternatively, the third lens could be a super wide-angle lens to allow for different perspectives.

Earlier this week, French smartphone leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer (who runs the OnLeaks account on Twitter) and Indian tech site Digit collaborated on a batch of renderings allegedly representing this year’s iPhones.

“We have gotten our hands on a very early look at the 2019 iPhone model thanks to a partnership with OnLeaks,” Digit noted. “This is in fact the very first look at what Apple is up to and by the looks of it, the next flagship iPhone will have three cameras on the back.” As you can see for yourself on the images top of post and right below, three rear lenses along with LED flash and a microphone should be housed in a square unit with a rather large bump.

According to Digit, another tipster who goes by the handle @IceUniverse has also confirmed that these apparently leaked renders are indeed correct. However, the post cautions that this is an early look at the new upcoming iPhone XS Max and as such could undergo some more changes in the design.

Even Hemmerstoffer himself, who has a long track record of leaking information from Apple’s supply chains, has acknowledged on Twitter that this is a “freakingly early leak”. Indeed, 2019 iPhones are still in Engineering Validation Test (EVT) stage so Apple can still make changes before it the design is locked.

We already saw Android phones with a three-lens rear camera setup from LG and Huawei (Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro). Furthermore, HMD Global’s upcoming Android One-powered 6-inch Nokia 9 PureView should have a five-camera setup with Zeiss lens, according to MySmartPrice and leaker Evan Blass. The camera module would capture five images simultaneously and combine them into a single photograph sporting 10x more light with great texture and detail.

Here’s a video showing an alleged unit in action.

As if that werent’ enough, one of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10 models is said to feature four cameras out the back along with a dual-lens selfie camera. Last year, Samsung’s Galaxy A9 debuted with four rear cameras.

As you know, Apple tests multiple iPhone designs. For all we know, this rendering could be depicting one of the earlier prototypes because I don’t think Apple would release a phone with such an obnoxious camera hump.

What do you think?

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